FOOD HABITS OF TAMILS PART :08[Food Habits Of Ancient Sumer-continuing]

 [Compiled by: Kandiah Thillaivinayagalingam]
Mesopotamian bread was usually coarse,flat,and unleavened,but a more expensive bread could be baked from finer flour.Pieces of just such a bread were found in the tomb of Queen Puabi of Ur, stored there to provide her spirit with sustenance in the afterlife.Bread could also be enriched with animal and vegetable fat;milk,butter,and cheese;fruit and fruit juice;and sesame seeds.The most important food crop especially in southern Mesopotamia was the date palm.Rich in sugar and iron,dates were easily preserved.Like barley, the date-palm thrived on relatively saline soil and was one of the first plants farmers domesticated.Curiously, two mainstays of the Mediterranean diet--olives and grapes.were seldom found in Mesopotamian cuisine.Meats were cooked by roasting, boiling, barbecuing or broiling and preserved by drying,smoking or salting.

The Sumerian invented cuneiform writing around 3100 BC.The writing system spread to Mesopotamia's other groups to record their language and by about 1900 BC ,the Babylonians compiled a concordance with more than 800 food & drink terms in Sumerian & Akkadian using the common cuneiform script.One of the largest categories was for foods cooked in liquid.These are simply names without gastronomic detail,but the large number of culinary terms suggests that sophisticated cooking had spread throughout Mesopotamia's different ethnic groups and also evidences
indicates that these different peoples shared many food habits.Cooking equipment also evolved to allow more sophisticated cookery.The Sumerians in their prehistory developed stone ovens capable of baking loaves of bread,Fire brick ovens followed by about 2500 BC,Some designed with flat areas that could hold stewing or frying pans,made from either clay or bronze.Very few recipes survive from Mesopotamia.The exceptions are 35 recipes incised on three clay tablets that form part of the Yale babylonion collection,Now held at Yale university.The cuneiform writing system was complex and generally only scribes who had studied for years could read and write, so it is unlikely that the cookbooks were meant for the ordinary cook or chef. Instead, they were
written to document the current practices of culinary art.The recipes are elaborate and often call for rare ingredients.We may assume that they represent Mesopotamian haute cuisine meant for the royal palace or formal "Culinary Liturgy" for religious offerings.The Yale tablets are damaged and contain words that scholars have been unable to translate.Nontheless,They are the single best evidence of how dishes dating back to about 4000 years might have been prepared.Most of the recipes were now by guesses based on scientific,archaeological,biological and other literary evidences.These are the oldest known food recipes any where in the world.



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